Pentagon defends deadly drone attack in Kabul

Pentagon defends deadly drone attack in Kabul

[explosion] In one of the final acts of its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the United States fired a missile from a drone at a car in Kabul. It stood in the courtyard of a house, and the explosion killed 10 people, including 43-year-old Zamari Ahmadi and seven children, according to his family. The Pentagon claimed Ahmadi was a facilitator for the Islamic State, and that his car was loaded with explosives, posing an imminent threat to US troops guarding the evacuation at Kabul airport. “Procedures were followed correctly, and it was a noble strike.” The military apparently did not know that Ahmadi was a longtime aid worker, who colleagues and family members said spent hours at office tasks before dying, dragging him to his home to end his day. . Soon after, his Toyota was hit by a 20-pound Hellfire missile. What was interpreted as the suspicious movements of a terrorist could be an average day in his life. And it’s possible that what the military saw Ahmadi load into his car were canisters of water he was bringing home for his family—not explosives. Using never-before-seen security camera footage of Ahmadi, interviews with his family, colleagues and witnesses, we will first piece together his movements in the hours before he was killed. Jemari Ahmadi was an electrical engineer by training. For 14 years he worked for the Kabul Office of Nutrition and Education International. “NEI set up a total of 11 soybean processing plants in Afghanistan.” It is a California-based NGO that fights malnutrition. Most days, he drove one of the company’s white Toyota Corollas, took his colleagues to work and distributed NGO food to war-displaced Afghans. Only three days before Ahmadi was killed, 13 US soldiers and more than 170 Afghan civilians were killed in an Islamic State suicide attack on the airport. The army had authorized lower level commanders to order the first air strike in the evacuation, and they were prepared to anticipate another imminent attack. To reconstruct Ahmadi’s activities on 29 August, hours before he was killed, The Times combined security camera footage from his office, along with interviews with more than a dozen of Ahmadi’s associates and family members. kept together. Ahmadi appears to have left his house at around 9 am, then picked up the laptop of a colleague and his boss near his house. It is around this time that the US military claimed it spotted a white sedan leaving an alleged Islamic State safe house about five kilometers northwest of the airport. So the US military said they tracked down Ahmadi’s Corolla that day. He also said that he stopped communication with the safehouse, instructing the car to make several stops. But every aide who boarded Ahmadi that day said what the military interpreted as a series of suspicious moves was a normal day in his life. When Ahmadi picked up another colleague, the three stopped to have breakfast and at 9:35 am they reached the NGO’s office. Later that morning, Ahmadi took some of his co-workers to a Taliban-held police station to seek permission for future food distribution at a new displacement camp. Ahmadi and his companions returned to the office at around 2 pm. The security camera footage we received from the office is important to understand what happens next. The camera timestamp is off, but we went to the office and verified the time. We matched an exact scene from the footage with a timestamp satellite image to confirm it was accurate. At 2:35 a.m., Ahmadi pulls out a hose, and then he and a co-worker pour water into the empty container. Earlier that morning, we saw Ahmadis bring the same empty plastic containers to the office. His family said, there was scarcity of water in their neighborhood, so he used to bring water home regularly from the office. Around 3:38 a.m., a colleague drives Ahmadi’s car into the driveway ahead. A senior US official told us that around the same time, the military saw Ahmadi’s car being pulled into an undisclosed compound 8 to 12 kilometers southwest of the airport. This overlaps with the location of the NGO’s office, which we believe is an undisclosed campus by the Army. With the workday over, an employee turned off the office generator and the feed from the camera ended. We don’t have footage of the moments after that. But at this point in time, the military said its drone feed showed four men loading packages wrapped in a car. Officials said they could not tell what was inside them. This footage from the first day shows what the men said they were carrying – their laptops in a plastic shopping bag. And the only things in the trunk, Ahmadi’s coworkers said, were containers of water. Ahmadi took off each of them, then went to his home in a dense neighborhood near the airport. He returned to the small courtyard of the house. According to his brother, the children surrounded the car. A US official said the military feared the car would reroute, driving itself to a more congested street or airport. Drone operators, who were not looking at Ahmadi’s home that day, quickly scanned the courtyard and said they only saw an adult male talking to the driver and no children. They decided it was the moment to strike. A US official told us that Ahmadi’s car was attacked by an MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired a single Hellfire missile with a 20-pound warhead. We found remnants of the missile, which experts said matched a Hellfire at the site of the attack. In the days following the attack, the Pentagon repeatedly claimed that the missile attack caused other explosions, and that civilians were killed in the courtyard. “Significant secondary explosions from the target vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.” “Since there were secondary explosions, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that there were explosives in that vehicle.” But a senior military officer later told us that it was only possible that the explosives in the car caused another explosion. We collected photographs and videos of the scene taken by journalists and visited the courtyard several times. We shared evidence with three weapons experts who said the damage was consistent with the impact of a Hellfire missile. He pointed to the small pit under Ahmadi’s car and damage from metal fragments of the warhead. This plastic was melted as a result of the fire in the car from the missile attack. All three experts also described what was missing: any evidence of large secondary explosions described by the Pentagon. There are no collapsed or blown up walls, including the side of the trunk with the alleged explosives. There is no indication that a major explosion overturned another car parked in the courtyard. No destroyed vegetation. This all matches what eyewitnesses told us, that a single missile exploded and a huge fire broke out. One last detail is visible in the wreckage: containers similar to those that Ahmadi and his associates had filled with water and loaded into their trunks before heading home. Even though the military said that the drone team watched the car for eight hours that day, a senior official also said that they were not aware of any containers of water. The Pentagon has not provided evidence of explosives in Ahmadi’s vehicle or shared to the Times what they say is intelligence that links him to Islamic State. But in the morning when the US killed Ahmadi, Islamic State fired rockets from a residential area at the airport, which Ahmadi had run the previous day. And the vehicle he used…… was a white Toyota. The US military has so far acknowledged the deaths of only three civilians from its attack, and has said an investigation is underway. He has also admitted that nothing was known about Ahmadi before he was killed, prompting him to interpret an engineer’s work at an American NGO as an Islamic State terrorist. Four days before Ahmadi’s murder, her employer applied for her family to receive refugee resettlement in the United States. They were waiting for approval till the time of the strike. Looking to America for safety, they instead become the final victims of America’s longest war. “Hello, I’m Ivan, one of the producers of this story. Our latest visual investigation began with word on social media of an explosion near Kabul airport. It turned out it was a US drone strike, which was in Afghanistan.” It was one of the final acts in the 20 Years’ War. Our goal was to fill in the gaps in the Pentagon’s version of events. We analyzed special security camera footage, and combined it with eyewitness accounts and expert analysis after the strike. You You can see more of our investigation by signing up for our newsletter.”

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